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Why buy a minivan when for the same price you can have a full-size van? Oh right, parking and fuel economy, to name just two. Well, if you've got nothing but wide-open spaces and lots of cash to plug into the tank, give the Ford Econoline Wagon a try. And look closely at the XLT Traveler, which is to family road trips what Valium is to stress.
Massive people-hauling and cargo-toting ability, powerful engines, wide range of configurations, available Traveler package.
Fuel economy, size.
Available Econoline Wagon Models
Use the Edmunds Pricing System to help you get the best deal:
All Econolines get A-pillar grab handles, tilt steering, backlit cruise control switches, an illuminated rear auxiliary climate control switch, low-fuel and cruise-control-on indicators in the gauge cluster. Newly optional on the XL is an overhead console. XLT has standard dual illuminated sun visors and front floor mats. E-350 Super Duty models can now be equipped with the luxury Traveler package, while E-350 Super Duty Extended vans get an upgraded transmission. Optional on XLT is an in-dash six-CD changer, and models equipped with the Chateau package get a dual-media cassette/CD stereo, privacy glass and an overhead console.
Tough, roomy, rugged and reliable, Ford's Econoline Wagon has a favorable, well-earned reputation. Since its introduction in 1960, Ford says it has sold more than 6 million Econolines.
The current lineup is extensive. There is the base-model E-150, the tougher E-350 Super Duty, and the E-350 Super Duty Extended. Each of these vehicles is offered in either XL or XLT trim. Both XL and XLT come standard with items like driver and passenger second-generation airbags, tilt steering, air conditioning and a class one trailer-towing package. XL models have front bucket seats, while XLTs get front captain's chairs.
The E-150, E-350 Super Duty and E-350 Super Duty Extended are all designed to haul passengers. Each rides on a 138-inch wheelbase and can accommodate 7 or 8 (E-150), 12 (E-350 Super Duty) or 15 (E-350 Super Duty Extended) people.
The Econoline Wagon is available with five different engines (or six, if you count the special-order 5.4-liter natural gas V8). E-150s come with a standard 191-horsepower 4.2-liter V6. Optional on the E-150 is either a 4.6-liter V8 or a 5.4-liter V8. The 4.6-liter produces 225 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque, while the 5.4-liter makes 255 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
E-350 Super Duty and Super Duty Extended models have the 5.4-liter V8 as standard. To upgrade, you can go with a 305-horsepower 6.8-liter V10 or Ford's 7.3-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8. This monster cranks out 215 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque way down at 1,800 rpm. Trailer ratings range from 6,600 pounds for an E-150 Wagon powered by a 4.2-liter V6 to 10,000 pounds for an E-350 Super Duty.
Driving an Econoline, despite its passenger seating, differs little from piloting a delivery vehicle, so it's not a logical choice for everyday motoring -- though quite a few families happily employ their Wagons exactly that way. The virtues of sitting tall with a panoramic view of the road ahead can outweigh many a minor inconvenience. Handling is light, seats are acceptably comfortable, and Econolines don't ride badly at all, considering the old-fashioned suspension configurations they employ. And then there's the matter of cargo space -- up to 309 cubic feet of it! Let's see an Excursion try to match that.
To make owning a full-size van more palatable to the masses, Ford has conjured up the Traveler package, which can be added to XLT versions of the standard-length Econoline Wagon. Adding the Traveler package provides buyers with such goodies as leather seats, an onboard entertainment system with two 6-inch flip-down LCD monitors, an in-dash six-CD changer and even aluminum wheels on the E-150.
If you want to purchase a new full-size van or wagon, you're going to end up with the Econoline, the Chevrolet Express, the Dodge Ram Wagon or the GMC Savana. All four vehicles have similar prices, wheelbases and maximum passenger capacities (15 people). The GM vans have the most powerful engine lineup, but beyond that, we recommend buyers in this market focus on the pricing and packaging that meets their needs.
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